Cape Town - With the Proteas attack depleted after the first innings injury to Dale Steyn, somebody needed to step up in the second innings when they were defending just 207 against India at Newlands on Monday.
That man, as has been the case so often for South Africa in Test cricket, was Vernon Philander.
The 32-year-old produced the best figures of his career on day 4 as the Proteas skittled India for 135 on their way to a 72-run victory in Cape Town in the first Test.
Philander took the last three wickets in just four balls as he finished with 6/42 on the day and 9/75 in the match.
"If there is something in the wicket, Vern is as good as you
get around the world," captain Faf du Plessis said after the match.
"What impressed me most today is that he wanted to bowl
"He wanted the
ball and he wanted to make a plan and that’s what you want from your senior
Philander stepped up, and in a big way.
He was handed the man-of-the-match award while he also got the vital wicket of Virat Kohli in the second innings when he trapped the Indian skipper LBW.
Philander's class was evident in his description of how he out-foxed Kohli.
"Virat is an aggressive player and the key thing is to keep
him quiet and set him up for the other one ... I always knew that I had that one
coming back," Philander explained.
"It was about two and a half overs of away swing and then
one back at him. It was definitely a plan to keep him quiet and to drag him
across to make sure that when you do bowl the other one he’s on the wrong side
of off stump.
"From the get-go I knew that it was stone dead."
Kohli had sent the decision upstairs for review, but to no avail.
It was another massive performance from Philander on his home track. He loves bowling here and has 47 wickets in just eight Tests at the venue at an average of only 16.34.
"When you look at the type of score you need to defend,
someone has to make the play and you can’t wait for late in the game," he said.
that I had to bowl overs up front to put us in a good position and I just
wanted to contribute."